We've heard plenty from Redskins coach Jay Gruden over the weeks. Less so from first-year defensive coordinator Joe Barry. Both met with the media Thursday ahead of the regular season opener against the Miam Dolphins.
Jay Gruden on:
The return game: The true news of the day came when Gruden announced rookie Jamison Crowder as the primary Week 1 punt returner with Chris Thompson serving as the kick returner. Crowder supplants the innective Andre Roberts desspite limited preseason work.
"I think that’s why we have all these practices. He’s caught a ton of punts from [Punter] Tress Way," Gruden said. "Tress is one of the harder punters in the NFL to catch punts from. He’s gotten a lot of work, we don’t feel any worry.”
On what he likes in RB Chris Thompson on kickoff return duty: “Well you’ve got Andre who can also do it. Andre’s good, he can do both also. I think just starting out, the way we’re going to go, is probably Chris. Just because he’s a running back, he hits it; he doesn’t look afraid back there. Then you’ve got a chance to break the big one. Their kicker booms them out of the end zone and we’re probably not going to get a lot of kickoff returns anyway. But if we do, we feel good about Chris."
Injuries: Offensive tackle Tom Compton [calf] did not participate for a second straight day.
Oh, yeah about the backup quarterback's concussion. "We still have not heard anything back, no written confirmation on Robert [Griffin III] yet, so there’s nothing to announce there," Gruden stated. Later asked the reason for the hold up, the coach said, "No idea. No idea. Wish I knew.” Awesome.
On what he has observed in CB DeAngelo Hall, who spent much of training camp and preseason getting back into shape following a season-ending Achilles injury suffered last season: “Yeah, that’s exactly what I’ve observed is him trying to get back in shape, not only physically, but mentally. The belief that he can break on that thing and it’s healthy. The injury set him back a little bit in training camp. That’s why we played him the last preseason game about a quarter just to get him a good feel and confidence, mentally. I think he feels good. You see him running around out there. We’ll see how it plays out. This will be the first four quarter game that he’s played in a while. Hopefully it holds up and he holds up mentally. We feel confident that he’s going to be fine and big part of our success on defense.” Gruden added he expects Hall will start.
Quarterbacks: With Robert Griffin III still not cleared medically, Colt McCoy remains the No. 2 behind starter Kirk Cousins. This might remain the case - and absolutely should - even when RG3 passes all concussion tests. "He is right now," Gruden said of McCoy as the primary backup. "Obviously but we don’t have to announce the backups, the 53-man roster, the 46-man roster until really Sunday afternoon at 12 o’clock, so we’ll just wait and see.”
On how RB Alfred Morris and RB Matt Jones will be used: “We’ll see how the game goes. A lot depends on how the game goes. We’re going to work Matt in there obviously. It’s still, Alfred’s the bell cow, so to speak. We want to keep him fresh for 16 weeks. If he gets 12-20 carries, Matt Jones gets 8-10, I don’t know how that’s going to work or play out. I think a lot is going to depend on our drives. Do we have 12-play drive, do we have a three-and-out? If we have a bunch of three-and-outs then I don’t imagine Alfred is going to get taken out too much. We’ve got to try and get some drives, keep them alive and that way we’ll get a good look at both of them.”
Joe Barry on:
On CB DeAngelo Hall’s process of working back: “To start with, he was great for us in the offseason. Really couldn’t do anything, did some stuff individually and things like that but we kept him out of OTAs. I just loved his… it was my first time around him. I really loved his passion, he was into it. He was coaching the young guys. For me, never being around the guy, you never know how a veteran is going to act. He was great, he was positive. We get to training camp, we had a practice plan with him. I think you always have to do that anytime that you have a guy that is injured. Then he hurts the groin, then hurt his toe. But the thing I love about him is he kept battling and battling through it. He’s been great, he is a true professional which is great to see.”
On tackling: “I think tackling is a major issue in the NFL right now just because of the way the rules are now. You really can’t, from the time you play your last game, last year on December 29th or whatever it was, you really don’t tackle anybody until damn near the first preseason game. You can emphasize it, you can talk about it, you can drill it. But, until you actually go out and tackle a dude, that’s the only true way to do it. You don’t do that really technically until preseason games. You might have some live situations for guys in training camp. But you usually do that with the third group, you never do that with the first or second group. The first time that veterans really get a chance to go tackle is the preseason. I think everyone has to fight through that. From a coach’s stand point it’s frustrating. In college you have spring ball, you have Saturday scrimmages where you go out and tackle. NFL you don’t have that. We try to create drills for guys in the offseason, that nine-week period when we’re out on the field. Try to be as creative as possible but there’s no way to create a real tackle, unless going out and tackling a guy. You can’t do that until the preseason.”
On LB Preston Smith’s development: “Preston, I’m sure he’d tell you if you asked him, I’m up his butt every second of every day. He’s a talented kid, he really is. But like most rookies they don’t get it. One day he might have it and think he has it and the next day, he shows up and you’ve got to coerce him to get going. Preston’s been, typical rookie progress. I think OTAs was good, I think training camp was good. I think he did some things in the preseason. But he’s still a young player. I think he’s a kid I’m very excited about. He’s got a great skill set. He’s a big man, you don’t realize. You walk by him and you’re like ‘oh what is he 245-250’. He’s 270 pounds. He’s a big athletic kid that is just tipping the surface I think of how good he can be. ”
On how Safety Dashon Goldson earned team captain in his first year:
“I’ve been fortunate. I’ve been around some pretty special guys in my coaching career. Guys that I’ve specifically coached, guys, you know the Derrick Brookses, the John Lynches, the Eric Weddles, I’ve been able to be around guys like that. Dashon is in that mold. He really is. He is an absolute professional in the way that he works and the way that he handles himself in the meeting room. You can see that he’s always taking notes. He’s always talking ball out on the field. He’s always discussing things. If something does happen in practice when the first group goes out, he’s not over there just sitting on a cooler. He’s grabbing the guys, talking, ‘Hey, what happened? What was the breakdown?’ I would classify him as a guy that’s totally into ball…100 percent. The thing that’s great about that is when your marquee, “star players” are like that, it’s infectious. The other guys goes, ‘God dang, look how Dashon acts. Look how he’s into it.’ As veterans, as a young guy, as Kyshoen Jarrett to sit there and see a veteran act like that, prepare like that and go about his day on a daily basis whether it’s in the weight room, whether it’s in the meeting room, whether it’s on the practice field, it’s impressive. He’s been phenomenal.”
On what challenges are presented by Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill:
“The thing that I’ve been most impressed about him is that he is, I think as a coach, when you look at a player, whether it’s your own player, you view other players, especially with young guys, you look for them, for a progression. You look for them to get better year in and year out. When you really look at the year that he had last year, compared to the year before, he had 28 touchdowns, only threw 12 picks, threw for 4,100 yards. I think he was right about at a 93 quarterback rating. I can’t remember the previous year stats, but they were all improvements. He’s very good. He can make all the throws. The thing that I think is the most dangerous thing, he can run. It’s one thing when a quarterback can drop back and sling it, but when a quarterback can drop back and sling it and take off, it adds a whole other dimension. So, he’s a very good young football player in this league. Like I said, to me, the thing that’s been the most impressive, every year he’s improved.”